MANAGING A SUCCESSFUL ELECTION
In order to have a successful election, it is best to have a good plan. The following are some key items to help you conduct your own effective election.
Document how was it done last year
- How were the nominations conducted?
- Was there an advertisement or committee to find candidates?
- How was the balloting done? (Paper, telephone, electronic?)
- How much did the election cost? (Include the cost of paper, postage, staff time)
- What was done to promote the election? (Emails, web page, newsletters, etc.)
Preparing for this year’s election: Make a Plan - Work the Plan!
- Advertise or otherwise actively look for nominees
- This is the first and most important part of the process. Members are more likely to cast a vote when they have real choices on the ballot. One of the largest challenges is finding qualified candidates for leadership positions that want to serve.
- The nomination committee should not focus just on nomination candidates, but on increasing the pool of volunteers from which those candidates are recruited. That means finding ways to make it easier for members to integrate volunteer leadership into their busy lives. Then they will need training and support to advance into those leadership positions.
- This nomination process needs to be transparent and inclusive so members know what they are getting into and feel welcome when they take those first steps into deeper involvement.
- Get your membership database up to date.
- Confirm postal and email addresses.
- Purge entries that are no longer members.
- Obtain candidate biographies and photos (if required for the ballot).
- Coordinate with other departments and staff as to how you are going to advertise this election.
- Are you going to post a link on your website?
- How many newsletters will have a voting advertisement?
- How many reminder email blasts will you send?
- In addition to digital voting, do you need to send out paper ballots?
- Who is going to be responsible for the printing, stuffing, mailing, and most important, opening and tallying the ballots?
- What is the schedule to send the reminders?
- Will the paper results be entered into the digital system?
- Don’t just remind them. For a greater response, ask them how, when & where they will vote.
- Tabulation - Thanks to online voting platforms, tallying the votes is no longer the painful part of the ballot process. If you still have some paper ballots, the data from these may be integrated directly into the online votes so that you have all the ballot data in one place, in real time!
- Notification - How and when will the election results be posted?
- In an Eblast to all members?
- On your website?
- At the conclusion of the vote period?
- At a meeting or convention?
- Who will know the results after the close but before they are announced?
- Voting events and elections can be extremely sensitive processes, so you need internal controls that ensure transparency and integrity. For example, for the digital ballots, you should have bank-level encryption to protect the voting process and your organization’s data. To ensure that nothing interferes with your voting event, your online voting platform should be hosted by data centers that are protected against environmental or manmade disaster with redundancy built into the infrastructure and data automatically backed up.
- As always, have a complete audit trail of administrator and voter activity, including ballot modifications, vote time stamps, and receipts. If you give the appropriate attention to each of these five key elements, your members and other stakeholders will trust that your election was run with the highest levels of fairness and integrity.